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Automakers agree to keep some things private for car owners

All Things Nav

Nineteen automakers that operate in the U.S. have agreed not to share data from cars with third parties, without the drivers' consent. 

Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Auto Alliance, says cars are increasingly becoming connected to satellites, the Internet, and each other.

Those connections create a lot of personal information about where drivers go – and how they drive.

But Bergquist says people should also remember that connected cars will also bring many benefits.

"There will be a day not far away when your car can tell your house to turn on lights and turn up the heat because you're going to be there in five minutes," says Bergquist.

The agreement, which goes into effect in 2017, also requires the companies to fully disclose their privacy policies with owners.

Bergquist expects some companies will go further than the basic agreement – and that car companies will one day compete on the basis of privacy.

"It's a moving target," says Bergquest. She says people's feelings about new technology can change over time, and automakers' policies will have to keep up.

"For example, a few years ago, when caller ID showed up on phones, a lot of people were outraged and saw it as an invasion of privacy. That's changed today, and  a lot of people won't even answer their phone unless their caller ID tells them who's on the other end of the line."

Bergquest says there will be instances where automakers must share Internet-based, V2V, and other information with law enforcement, when there is a court order or warrant for the information. 

But that's no different than what sometimes happens with data from black boxes in today's vehicles. 

The devices capture speed, braking, and other data, and that data can become necessary to determine fault in an accident.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.